It’s like Sharon Corr has just found music. Whether she’s talking about the varied musical influences seeping in from her band members – who come from across America – or just getting on the tour bus, she’s fizzing with enthusiasm.
Her excitement is understandable when you realise just how firmly rooted with her siblings she was in The Corrs, the family band who defined a time and captured a sense of place in their internationally renowned and multi-award-winning Celtic rock-pop fusion.
It was only with their split in 2006 that the ‘real’ Sharon started finding her own way and the 44-year-old mother-of-two is still eagerly embracing her musical freedom.
Performing solo definitely suits.
“I really love what I’m doing,” she says. “It’s all about music – I’m playing all the time and touring.”
As one quarter of The Corrs alongside brother Jim and sisters Caroline and Andrea, Sharon added atmospheric violin – as well as piano and guitar and backing vocals – over 15 massively successful years with hits such as What Can I Do?, Runaway and 1998 album Corners, the highest-selling of that year – before the siblings decided to focus on their own families and interests.
Sharon has been quoted as saying: “With The Corrs, I was always aware that I wasn’t writing a song for my own voice, and I had to discover how to do that.”
And now? Yes, it was very something she had to learn, she says.
“When I started doing my own solo songs, I could imagine The Corrs singing them – it was so weird.”
But writing and recording her first solo album, Dream of You, was a turning point and she toured it alone between 2011 and 2013 across Europe, Australia, Asia and North and South America. Now, with second album The Same Sun out next month, fans will see yet another new side to the Grammy nominee and Brit Award-winning talent.
She’s been exploring musical directions with her band and this time with other singer-songwriters.
“I’ve collaborated with many people but I’ve not sat down to write a song with somebody before,” she says of her new work, which we in the North East will get to hear first hand when she tours it to the O2 Academy in Newcastle on September 18, 10 days after the album’s release.
“It was something I was a little fearful of as I was so used to working with The Corrs or on my own.
“But my solo career has been really about doing everything differently. Anything I’m a little bit scared of, I want to do it!”
She tells how she’s fascinated with the long career of Robert Plant who’s “doing what he is interested in doing and not what others want him to do. And he’s extremely successful at it; he’s constantly moving forward.”
She, too, is surprising herself with the feeling that she’s constantly developing.
“I’ve got much more to express. I can take a song completely down the road I wouldn’t think of taking it.”
It’s all about stripped back emotions, really thinking through and expressing a song’s themes or, as she puts it, “no huge big production but beautifully crafted and honest: super-organic, super-pure but very beautiful”.
Her work is full of new ideas, new experiences and even “full of paradoxes”.
“Every emotion has an opposing emotion; even as I’m speaking I’m turning corners emotionally.”
Returning to Newcastle will be poignant for Sharon, whose mother Jean Corr, a musical inspiration to her family, died at the Freeman Hospital in the city while waiting for a lung transplant in 1999.
Memorably, The Corrs staged a fund-raising concert here as a thank you to the hospital for her care but since then Sharon has been trying to generate happy memories in the city.
“Obviously, we lost my mum at the Freeman, so it has a special place in our heart. The people there really looked after us.”
Her last visit was about three years ago when she enjoyed “a great night out”.
“Now I try to remember the good memories, rather than the bad.”
Growing up in County Louth, Sharon says her mother was a huge influence.
“She was high-flying and wonderful at her job – and she was a stunning singer, as good as Karen Carpenter. My mum and dad had a band, which was their passion. I never thought twice about doing music. We were never told to get a regular job, but to follow what you love and to do it well.”
So she feels she’s come full circle. And her own role as a mother is on her mind as she says of her commitment to work: “When you have kids you wonder if you are getting it right as a woman; do you have the balance right?”
But she’d never make sacrifices when it comes to them and says: “I am doing it right.”
The voice Sharon has found is a distinct one.
“I think I always knew I had something else, that I had more to do, and I think I always knew I needed to express this thing within me on my own.”